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When Someone Says “I threw out my back” What Do They Mean?

Senior man with back pain. Spine physical therapist and paient. Chiropractic pain relief therapy.People sometimes say they’ve thrown out their back when they’ve strained the muscles in the back. This type of strain can occur when we bend forward in an awkward position, lift something that’s quite heavy, or twist the back during some physical activity.

There are different symptoms that are often associated with a thrown-out back:

  • muscle spasms
  • lower back pain or stiffness
  • limited range of motion in the back
  • difficulty keeping a normal posture due to pain or stiffness 

Are there ways to prevent throwing out my back?

Unexpected things can happen, but there are ways to make it less likely that you will experience throwing out your back. These strategies include:

  • Having a regular stretching and exercise routine
  • Lifting heavy objects from the knees or getting help with this lifting
  • Wearing a brace or back support when lifting or moving heavy objects
  • Not carrying heavy loads in backpacks and other bags that rest on the back

What are the treatments for this type of back pain?

Home treatment includes using heat or ice and taking over-the-counter pain medicines. Treatments such as massage or physical therapy may also help.  In most cases, getting back to your normal activities is good for your back. But it’s very important that you not do any activity that makes the pain worsen.

As the pain or discomfort begins to go away, it’s usually helpful to stretch your muscles on a daily basis, helping them to relax. Getting plenty of rest and sleep also helps the healing process. 

Most people who throw out their backs will fully recover within a few weeks. But if pain continues to negatively impact your quality of life, and the over-the-counter medications don’t seem to help, you should contact your doctor.

There are also those times when people who throw out their backs should get expert care right away. Reasons you should consider seeing a doctor right away include:

  • Unable to stand
  • Numbness
  • Fever
  • Abnormal bowel movements
*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery